The Case for Okposo’s Olympic Bid
by Peter Kaplan
On January 1, 2014 at the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, the USA Olympic hockey team will be announced. St. Paul, Minnesota native Kyle Okposo hopes his name is called.
“Don’t get me wrong, it would mean a lot. A lot,” Okposo told Arthur Staple of Newsday. “Aside from winning a Stanley Cup, winning a gold medal for your country is about as great an accomplishment as you can have in this game. But I know what will get me there is how I play with the Islanders, so this is my focus.”
With the way his season has unfolded, Okposo might get there.
The 25 year-old Islander winger is putting up terrific numbers. Okposo, through 32 contests, is currently 14th in the league with 19 assists, and 20th in the league in scoring with 28 points.
Among American skaters, Okposo ranks third, tied with the Ottawa Senators’ Bobby Ryan and the San Jose Sharks’ Joe Pavelski in points, pretty good company, and sure locks for the Sochi team by many projection lists.
The University of Minnesota product has donned the red, white, and blue before. In 2009, 2010, and 2012 Okposo represented the USA in the World Championships. He has accumulated 5 goals and 6 assists in 23 WC games.
However the U.S. talent pool may be the deepest it has ever been. Team USA GM David Poile said that there have already been seven forward spots that have been locked up. Kyle is most likely not one of those seven so he has to continue to battle and produce.
For what it is worth I think that Kyle makes the team. Not many players work harder than Okposo both on and off the ice. He is a gritty power forward who will do the hard work along the boards, something that team USA could very much need.
Here are my projected lines for team USA, feel free to comment down below;
Zach Parise – David Backes (barring this Day to Day Injury being serious) – Patrick Kane
James Van Riemsdyk – Joe Pavelski – Phil Kessel
Kyle Okposo – Ryan Kessler – Bobby Ryan
Dustin Brown – Paul Stastny – T.J. Oshie
Extras: Jason Pominville, Max Pacioretty
Ryan Suter – John Carlson
Ryan McDonagh – Kevin Shattenkirk
Dustin Byfuglien – Jack Johnson
Extras: Erik Johnson, Keith Yandle
Ryan Miller – Jonathan Quick – Jimmy Howard
Obviously, injuries can make this list change between now and the December 31st deadline (Callahan, Martin, Quick). Also some one can get white-hot like Max Pacioretty. The one true weakness of this USA time is that they lack a true number one center. Still, this was a difficult list to make, the USA is so talented and someone is going to get snubbed.
Islander Highlight of the Week
If you did not get enough of Kyle Okposo here is a double dose! Okposo ties up the game against the San Jose Sharks with 1:40 remaining in the third. Then Okie puts the team on his back and gets that extra point with the shootout winner.